‘It’s Not Fair’

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the state of the world and to feel helpless. There’s not much any single individual can do. A starting point is to see how the world works through the eyes of the disadvantaged, the poor, the marginalised and those most impacted by climate change. When leading sixth year Quo Vadis pilgrims on a three-day hike over the mountains, there was an implicit understanding. ‘I’ am not there yet until ‘we’ are all there. No matter how fast or athletic a person was, the pace had to accommodate the weakest. We would often stop to wait for the stragglers who were finding it difficult to climb the steep sections and then continue only after they had recovered. While the stronger may have been frustrated from time to time, there was an invaluable lesson. We walked as a community where people watched out for one another. We weren’t in competition. We were in empathetic solidarity. This experience mirrors our better nature.

Excerpted from Reimagining Religion by Jim Maher SJ (p.116)

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Random Reflections

Don’t cry for too long when something beautiful ends or a dear friend dies. Rejoice and be grateful that the beautiful happened.

Excerpted from Random Reflections by Des O’Donnell OMI (p.49)

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Tips From Learning From Your Feelings

Distinction is in the first place based on one’s own feelings. It is about what you notice in your own heart, not the hearts of your housemates, parents or friends. It is valuable to know how people who love you feel about what you do or don’t do, and to distinguish between your desires and their desires. Their feelings can provide valuable information. The only place where all this information finally comes together, however, is your own heart. It is about your life.

Excerpted from Living with Ignatius: On the Compass of Joy by Nikolaas Sintobin (pp. 85-86)

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The Ignatian System

The Ignatian system is based on a very simple insight that our experience has meaning, especially our inner moods and deeper experiences. To be able to see clearly, however, we need to be able to stand back and reflect on our journey. Seeing clearly then helps us find a direction or a path forward. It is like getting to a high point on the trail where you can see your previous journey and plan the future with great clarity. The key is getting out of our heads, away from anxiety, old patterns and fixed ideas and moving from the ego, or self-centredness to our best selves, which is what God wants. This is not as easy as it sounds though as the ego has strong defences and resists attempts to break free from its clutches. Freedom is only possible through connecting to a higher love, and the Camino journey is the organic process of letting go of our old life or patterns and waking up to a new reality.

Excerpted from Contemplating the Camino: An Ignatian Guide by Brendan McManus SJ (pp. 8-9)

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Always Ready To Help Us

God is always ready to help us. What’s required is that we first declare before God our thankful love. This needs to be our starting point, and indeed it shouldn’t only be a starting point, but a constant point of reference in our lives. As St Paul says in his first Letter to the Thessalonians: ‘give thanks in every circumstance’ (1 Thes 5:18).

In other words, give thanks also in difficult moments, in challenging moments, in moments when there doesn’t appear to be enough resources to see you through. Beneath apparently difficult situations, there is a hidden grace.

Excerpted from The Mindful Our Father by Thomas G. Casey SJ (pp: 102-103 )

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Human Development and Prayer

While there are some elements common to all our lives, we know that each person has individual characteristics too, and a unique story. As human beings, we are gifted, though limited, creatures. Our particular characteristics, our backgrounds and how we were nurtured and formed exert their influence on us. Our formation in faith has an important role in providing direction and in setting goals in life. There are challenges to all of this from various sources, inside and outside ourselves. It is good to remember that in his ministry Jesus met, not only openness and receptivity, but also blindness and resistance. The response to his call was not always immediate and generous.

Excerpted from See God Act: The Ministry of Spiritual Direction by Michael Drennan SJ (p: 33 )

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First Things First

The image of a jigsaw puzzle helps to develop a little more the idea of what life is about. Each individual piece plays an invaluable role. There are no substitutes. There is no understudy to replace me in life. We collaborate as co-creators with God by ‘selving’, owning who we are and, in that way we facilitate the completion of the jigsaw with our own unique contribution, as God had hoped for. It’s only when all the pieces come together that the New Jerusalem, the new order of creation, will be established. While the kingdom of God is in our midst, it’s awaiting completion. We’re not passive recipients in God’s eyes. God needs each one of us to play the part assigned to us, by being who we are, faithful to our true selves. That’s why it’s so important to get in touch with what really makes us tick.

Excerpted from Pathways to a Decision with Ignatius of Loyola  by Jim Maher SJ (p.24)

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The God of Galaxies, Glow Worms and Grace

We are part of the unfathomable weave of the universe, immersed in its deep mystery. Its dance has already begun: it has always been in process. Each of us has a role in it. Jesus and his Father are working (Jn 4:34) for the good of all creation and we can tune in to their signals and do likewise. Thomas Merton says that every moment and every event in every person’s life plants seeds of spiritual vitality in their hearts. This is the divine at work on Earth: this is grace and grace is everywhere. All is sacred and so are we. We must not desecrate our Common Home. We belong to the great Creation Story, to a whole that is infinitely greater than ourselves. We are called even now to share with all of Creation ‘in the freedom of the children of God’ (Rom 8:21).

So let’s put on our dancing shoes and learn the steps of the cosmic dance!

Excerpted from Creation Walk: The Amazing Story of a Small Blue Planet by Brian Grogan SJ (pp. 90-91)

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Discovering God Daily

The most consoling thought is that God is with us always, even in difficult or messy moments in our lives. This loving God who has created us has provided a way for us to communicate by tuning in to our inner life. This life is made up of feelings and emotions, the raw material of the movements that God stirs in us. By using reflection and contemplation, we can learn how to find and cooperate with God’s will. We often need to let go of attachments and our sense of being in control in order to find God. The other really good news is that God is always offering us a new chance or opportunity. As St Paul said, ‘Nothing can separate us from the love of God’ There is always a way back home. We don’t have to expect huge miracles or spectacular moments. Rather, there are concrete ways of living, praying and reflecting on our experience that allow us to discover God daily.

Excerpted from Discover God Daily: Seven life-changing moments from the journey of St Ignatius  by Brendan McManus SJ and Jim Deeds (pp.95-96)

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The Desert Experience

Often the important thing is being able to let go of unrealistic goals and  expectations and instead be obedient to the reality in which we find ourselves. Being flexible, creative and making good decisions in the particular circumstances is harder than it sounds, as fixed plans, ideals and pre-set objectives can hold sway. Ignatian freedom is the letting go of these deceptive attachments in order to come to better decisions. ‘Discretion is the better part of valour’ or, in Ignatian language, discerning good decisions is being humble in the face of reality. 

Excerpted from Brothers in Arms by Brendan McManus SJ (pp: 57-58)

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